(Boone Publications, Lubbock, Texas - 1972)
Commonly referred to as "Chrome Dome" Operations, Westover maintained eight B-52 Stratofortress's on a 24 hour alert status. These operations were a realistic training scenario that was designed to demonstrate the retaliatory capabilities of SAC and deter an enemy force from launching an attack on the United States. Five B-52s were parked on a ramp known as the "Christmas Tree" and adjacent to a rectangular building known as the "Mole Hole." The other three alert aircraft were located outside of this area, and were fondly referred to as the "Sierra Studs." Crews that were on alert status resided in the "Mole Hole." When an alert Klaxon sounded, these crews would quickly dawn their flight suits and run up, or down the corrugated tunnels that protruded from this facility and to their awaiting aircraft. The concept of this type of alert was to have a contingent of SAC aircraft airborne within fifteen minutes of receiving the "GO" order from CINCSAC.
Colonel Charles A. Brown Jr, USAF (Ret.) describes life at the "Mole Hole" facility. "I was at the Mole Hole quite often on SAC Alert. The facility had bedrooms and briefing rooms, a dining facility, and a recreational room. When we were on alert, we did a lot of training. We mission planned for a training mission that we fly after alert, and did all of our ground training." He also explained that the crews stayed together while on alert. If one crew member went to the dining facility, the rest of the crew was required to go with him.
Along with the
B-52s on alert, were a contingent of KC-135A/B Stratotankers; which were parked
on East Ramp. Alert crews for these aircraft were billeted in trailers at
the base of the control tower. The other aircraft that were on alert was
the EC-135C (Looking Glass Aircraft). Captain Wilton O. Curtis, USAF
(Ret.) describes a SAC Alert exercise with these aircraft. "The Stonybrook
entrance led to the back of Westover AFB and was generally opened only for the
passage of two SAC alert vehicles speeding down from the underground command
post at the "Notch" during a SAC headquarters' ordered launch of Westover's 8th
Air Force Command Post, "Grayson." The full battle staff were in the two
trucks and would speed out to the end of the runway to meet the EC-135C plane
that had already taxied into position for take-off (both the flight crew and
communications crew pulled alert on the base in the alert facility...and thus
were able to have the plane ready upon arrival of the battle staff for a quick
take-off.) Time was of the essence due to the soviet ICBM's target time
over the polar icecaps to reach Westover. In theory, we were airborne
within a set time or, along with everyone else in the area, dead."